David Fathead Newman & the Tilden Webb Trio
Cellar Groove (Cellar Live)
With Cellar Groove, jazz impresario Cory Weeds has dug deep into his archive for a 2004 club date all jazz-saxophone fans should treasure—in part because Newman, who died in 2009, sounds especially relaxed and happy in the company of Tilden Webb and his trio.
That the Vancouver pianist is one of our city’s most gracious and thoughtful accompanists is fully evident here: you can almost hear Newman smiling at the way Webb drapes a sonic rainbow behind his solo on Duke Pearson’s soul-jazz classic “Cristo Redentor” and dives into the Afro-Latin rhythms of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia”. Bassist Jodi Proznick and drummer Jesse Cahill also excel, with the latter winning whoops of encouragement from the crowd with his hot solo on the aforementioned Gillespie tune.
Cellar Groove will also be an eye opener for those who knew Newman only as a sideman on Ray Charles’s classic singles, or as the saxophone soloist with artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Queen Latifah, and Doug Sahm. In fact, the Texan recorded something like 40 solo albums, many of them focused on jazz repertoire, but few of these found wide distribution.
A posthumous release on a small Vancouver label isn’t necessarily going to rectify that, but Cellar Groove is nonetheless an essential addition to the Fathead canon.